NPR’s This American Life digs into some bizarrely counterproductive sting tactics by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which might have gone unchallenged had the bureau not stiffed a Milwaukee landlord badly enough to provoke him into taking his story to Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich. “The whole effort has resulted in some attempts to actually disband the entire ATF, which might not be such a bad idea.” BATF is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt citing Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and This American Life; earlier on stash house entrapment]
Aware of New York City’s penchant for prosecuting persons found in possession of knives commonly used in construction and design work, sculptor Jonathan W. “therefore chose the Spyderco UK Penknife… a non locking, slip joint folder, which should have been in the clear. But that wasn’t good enough for the NYPD (who arrested him), the DA (who charged him), or even his public defender (who recommended he plead guilty).” [The Truth About Knives] Earlier on NYC’s crazy “gravity-knife” law here and here.
- Department of surreal headlines: “Detroit Mayor’s Office Disappointed With UN’s Stance on Water Shutoffs” [MLive.com via Deadline Detroit, earlier on customers who don’t pay Detroit water bills]
- “When Mr. Bond first impregnated Mrs. Bond’s best friend, the international Chemical Weapons Convention was probably the furthest thing from his mind.” [Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz, Cato Supreme Court Review (PDF), earlier on Bond v. U.S.]
- A case against including investor/state protections in trade negotiations [Daniel Ikenson, Cato] Issue leading leftists, libertarians separately to discover merits of sovereigntism? [Julian Ku, Opinio Juris]
- Survey of rapidly changing field of transnational antiquities law [ABA Journal]
- Canada, like U.S., gets periodic U.N. tongue-lashing over its relations with Indian tribes/native peoples [Kathryn Fort, ConcurOp]
- With U.S. isolated on firearms issues, U.N.’s contemplated Programme of Action on Small Arms not quite so innocuous [Ted Bromund, more, earlier here, here, here, and here]
- “The U.S. government should be careful about entering into new international agreements and treaties precisely because international laws do have legal force.” [Jason Sorens, Pileus]
If so, you’d never guess from the result in the Maryland governor’s election, I argue at Cato at Liberty.
- The Framers knew what they were doing: don’t abolish midterm elections [John O. McGinnis, Law and Liberty]
- Rhode Island has elected a new Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo, with public-employment reformist credentials. But is it ready to fix its structural barriers to economic growth? [Aaron Renn, City Journal; more from Renn at Urbanophile here, here, and here; a different view from Justin Katz, Anchor Rising]
- New Andy Pincus paper for U.S. Chamber on government-agency “litigation swarm” tactics [Institute for Legal Reform, more]
- Guns ‘n’ strippers: when happens when FOIA/public records requests run into Bill of Rights concerns [Eugene Volokh]
- “Three Convicted of Conspiracy to Defraud Gulf Oil Spill Fund” [FBI]
- New book by Judge Robert Katzmann on statute-drafting [James Maxeiner, Common Good]
- TCPA: “L.A. Lakers ‘Showtime’ Threatened by Class Action Over Text Messages” [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse]
Throwing its Chicago regional director under the bus, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has disavowed a February 2013 letter in which the director had told an Ohio bank, “It is our view that payday loans are costly, and offer limited utility for consumers, as compared to traditional loan products … Consequently, we have generally found that activities related to payday lending are unacceptable for an insured depository institution.” Critics have charged that the federal government has not been forthright about the extent to which it discouraged banks from providing services to lawful but frowned-on businesses in such lines as payday lending and ammunition sales. [Kevin Funnell, earlier on Operation Choke Point]
“An Alabama man who sued over being hit and kicked by police after leading them on a high-speed chase will get $1,000 in a settlement with the city of Birmingham, while his attorneys will take in $459,000, officials said Wednesday.” [Reuters/Yahoo] Readers may argue about whether this kind of outcome is fair, but note that it seems to happen more often, rather than less, in this country (with its putative “American Rule” that each side pays its own fees) than in other industrialized countries which tend more to follow “loser-pays” or “costs follow the event” fee principles. One reason for that is that the U.S. does not actually hew consistently to the so-called American Rule; across wide areas of litigation, including civil rights suits, it follows “one-way shift” principles in which prevailing plaintiffs but not prevailing defendants are entitled to fees, and whose encouragement to litigation is greater than either the American Rule or the loser-pays principle.
Related: The Pennsylvania legislature is moving to adopt a rule adopting one-way fees for some cases in which municipalities trample rights protected by the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment, provoking peals of outrage (“dangerous,” “outrageous,” “threatens municipalities’ financial stability,” etc.) from elected officials few of whom seem to be on record objecting to one-way fee shifts when plaintiffs they like better are doing the suing. [Free Beacon]
From the United Kingdom [Camilla Swift, The Spectator]:
Police this week were granted the authority to carry out random, unannounced checks at the home of anyone who has a gun license. Why? They claim that shooters may be ‘vulnerable to criminal or terrorist groups’ and this is the way to tackle the ‘problem’. The new Home Office guidance assures us this won’t occur ‘at an unsocial hour unless there is a justified and specific requirement to do so.’ Some get-out clause.
More: CPSA. Perhaps, in our American Bill of Rights, there is more of a connection between the Second Amendment and Fourth Amendment than is at first apparent.
And: “Watervliet, NY Asks Pistol Permit Applicants for Facebook Passwords. Or Not.” [Robert Farago, The Truth About Guns]
- “Mississippi accused do time for years with no indictment for a crime” [Jerry Mitchell, Clarion-Ledger; Scott Greenfield]
- Petty fines/fees, cont’d: the many ways to rack up municipal court fees in Ferguson and St. Louis County [Julie Lurie and Katie Rose Quandt, Mother Jones; earlier here and here] St. Louis suburbs with now-familiar names agree to traffic-cam settlement [KMOV]
- Judge rules police entitled to SWAT raid of private home over satirical Twitter account “impersonating” Peoria mayor [Guardian, earlier]
- Plea bargaining and excessive prosecutorial power [The Economist via Alexander Cohen, Atlas Society]
- Radley Balko remembers policing expert and former San Jose police chief Joseph McNamara;
- “SEC ‘Gag Orders': Does Settling in Silence Advance the Public Interest?” [Gary Matsko, WLF, cf. Toyota prosecution deal; related, Greenfield]
- Press 3 to confiscate his gun: New California law lets exes, in-laws, vengeful former roommates, or cops disarm individual without notice or hearing [Jacob Sullum, Sacramento Bee] More: Andrew Sullivan.